"When I was really young, I was fascinated with performance artists (…) Leigh Bowery, Klaus Nomi. And when I got older I became fascinated with Yoko Ono and Marina Abramovic.”
Richard Hamilton, the artist who invented Pop Art with the piece "Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes so Different, so Appealing?" collaborated with The Beatles to bring forth the artwork for The White Album. The euphoria of creating something new led Robert Fraser, a friend of the band, to put the four members in contact with the artist. After seeing his work, particularly a collage regarding a trial focused on The Rolling Stones and drug possession, McCartney invited the artist to be part of the project.
The Pop Art pioneer decided that the cover should not include any design whatsoever, but instead an embossed lettering of the band’s name in grey or black ink. It also included a serial number that gave the illusion of the record only existing in limited quantities.
Salvador Dalí collaborated with Alice Cooper. The Surrealist wanted to transform Cooper into a work of art that would be titled: "First Cylindric Chromo-Hologram Portrait of Alice Cooper's Brain."
Marina Abramovic has worked with several public figures. One of her most profound works is the one she did with Antony and the Johnsons, where she appears as one of the women who wish to conquer the world without caring about how many men she must murder. The song was written for The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic and features Carice Van Houten and Willem Dafoe.
In 2013 she also contributed to Jay Z’s video “Picasso Baby.” During one of her most popular performances, The Artist Is Present, the Hip Hop artist came into the Pace Gallery in New York to film some scenes with Abramovic.
The artist was left disappointed by this kind of collaborations, since she claims Jay Z took advantage of her fame and recognition to make the audience believe he’d do something different. According to Abramovic, this was a one-way transaction.
Despite this, the artist chose to work with Lady Gaga in order to turn her into her best ally. In 2013 the singer engaged in a physical and spiritual retreat at the performance artist’s summer home.
For three days, Gaga underwent several exercises that tested her resilience, such as screaming until her voice gave out, walk naked through the woods for three hours wearing a mask that did not let her see anything, or lying on the floor surrounded by chunks of ice.
Marina bought Gaga a white nurse’s uniform to do the feat in the middle of the woods. However, Gaga insisted on doing it completely naked and without any assistance in order to feel nature and the elements more freely. She never complained or said the meditation practices were too much.
The first scene in the video, where Gaga is on the floor repeating the later “A,” served as a way to use vocalization to create the right vibrations in a particular part of her body, in this case her heart.
Later on, in the river, while wearing items Abramovic classified as “energy clothing,” she discovered that the singer perfectly understood the concept: to be present and in the moment just as two human beings.
Gaga was attempting to connect with nature, while also discovering her own artistic side to bring forth the making of her ARTPOP record. She also contributed to the reconstruction of the Hudson Theater as a way of preserving performance art. There was even a crowdfunding campaign which resulted in 661, 454 dollars being put into the project. She also assured the retreat helped her find her path again.
But while this went on, Gaga was trying to find healing of her own. Following a hip surgery, she was smoking large amounts of marihuana to endure the pain. Marina helped her out of the addiction in order to find a new way to feel good about herself. For days the artist prohibited the singer form watching TV, opening her laptop, smoking marihuana, and eating certain foods.
But how did it all begin? The two met in 2010 when the artist’s retrospective was being presented at MOMA. Public figures were given exclusive access to enjoy Abramovic’s body of work away from the crowds. Yet Lady Gaga waited her turn and did not make a scene even when all the attendees noticed her and commented about it on social media. This then resulted in increased attendance by younger audiences.
Both women were part of the Artists Against Fracking movement helmed by Yoko Ono. They both required of each other to create a solid, artistic, and media savvy relationship.
If you feel like reading more about performance artists and the inspiration behind their work, check out the story of Jeff Koon’s torrid love affair with an Adult Film star, the artist who lets you touch her genitals for your shame, or how Shia LaBeouf could be the next Meta-modernist artist.
Translated by María Suárez